Community Law Center

Lawyers for Neighborhoods & Nonprofits

Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 16, 2014.

October 23, 2014

All three commissioners (Commissioners Moore and Jones and Chairman Ward) were present for the hearings on October 16, 2014.

11:00 a.m. cases

I. Transfers and amendments

Applicant Prem Mahat
Business Name Nepal House, Inc.
Trading As Nepal House
Address 918‐20 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add live entertainment, outdoor table service & off‐premise catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski appeared with his client, the applicant. Kodenski explained that the application before the Board is to transfer ownership, but not location, of an existing Class B license for an Indian Restaurant. Mr. Steve Johnson, of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that he had negotiated and signed with the applicant, on behalf of his community group. MVBA did not have any objection to the transfer of ownership or the outdoor tables, but they wanted restrictions on the hours and type of “live entertainment” requested.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 515 Walker Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Chris Janian
Business Name Smokehouse Ventures, LLC
Trading As JD’s Smokehouse
Address 3000 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for live entertainment, outdoor table service and off‐premises catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the applicant. He informed the Board that the applicant had met with the Canton Community Association and that there was no community opposition to the transfer of ownership. Kodenski said that Mr. Janian was a licensee at the Landmark Theater recently. He lives nearby, on Aliceanna Street.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Canton
Area demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, there is no “Smokehouse Ventures, LLC” listed by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Location of entity’s principal office The corporate entity in the docket does not exist in Maryland.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed SDAT does not show a business entity called “Smokehouse Ventures, LLC.” It is possible that the business entity is misspelled or misidentified somehow.
Applicants Kwok To Wong & Dorothea Locco
Business Name RP Chesapeake Station, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1707 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people, request for outdoor table service & off‐premises catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski appeared before the Board, with the two applicants. He submitted a proposed menu, seating chart, proposed capital investment breakdown, and a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the community association. The “city resident,” as Mr. Kodenski called her, Ms. Dorothea Locco, will work at the restaurant part time as a hostess. She has previously worked at High Tops and the Bay Cafe. Commissioner Moore pointed out that Ms. Locco is an employee of Mel Kodenski’s office. Ms. Locco said that she was, but she will also serve occasionally as a hostess at this establishment.

Zoning B-5-2
Neighborhood Charles North
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 501 Bucksaw Ct, Columbia, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Commissioner Moore asked the applicants whether one of them is a Baltimore City resident, as required by law. None of the Commissioners, however, asked whether the Baltimore City resident actually owns a financial interest in the business, as required by Article 2B section 10-103(b)(10).
Applicant Tom Chiu
Business Name Chiu’s Sushi, Inc.
Trading As Chiu’s Sushi
Address 608 S. Exeter Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership (change corporate name)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, represented the applicant. Kodenski told the commissioners that Mr. Chiu has been a licensee for a number of years but that he needs to change the ownership of the license to a new corporate entity. The business will continue essentially the same.

Zoning B-2-4
Neighborhood Inner Harbor
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 608 S. Exeter St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Santos Hernandez & Wilson Gutierrez
Business Name Mi Comalito Restaurant, Inc.
Trading As None provided in docket
Address 2101 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the two applicants. Ms. Sharon Guida, from the Charles Village Civic Association Land Use Committee, was also present in support of the application, under the restrictions of the written agreement between CVCA and the applicants.

Mr. Kodenski told the Board that the establishment has existed approximately one year. The applicants have met with the community groups. He submitted a floor plan, menu, capital investment breakdown, and letters of support.

Commissioner Moore asked for one of the applicants to confirm that he resides or owns property within Baltimore City limits. Mr. Santos Hernandez testified that he lives in Baltimore City.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Charles North
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2101 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 4
Attorney for community 0
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Commissioner Moore asked the applicants whether one of them is a Baltimore City resident, as required by law. None of the Commissioners, however, asked whether the Baltimore City resident actually owns a financial interest in the business, as required by Article 2B section 10-103(b)(10).
Applicants Sharjeel Ahmad & Daud Ahmad
Business Name Sofia & Sarosh 786, LLC
Trading As One Stop Shop
Address 1524 Cypress Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represneted the applicants in this transfer of ownership of a package goods license. Kodenski told the Board that Mr. Sharjeel Ahmad had met with “the community,” which he defined as the Curtis Bay Business Association. He did not explain whether the applicants had met with the organizations in the area that represent residents, not just businesses. Cityview shows the following organizations representing this address: Community of Curtis Bay Association, Gwynns Falls Trail Council, Southern District Police-Community Relations Council, Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition, and Southwest Community Action Center.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Curtis Bay
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 4017 Fairhaven Ave, Baltimore, MD 21226
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Dhrub Sharma & Pyu Jung Lee
Business Name Parkash D, LLC
Trading As Sunlite Liquors
Address 919‐21 E. Patapsco Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the two applicants, who, he told the Board had met with local community and business owners about the transfer of ownership. Mr. Dhrub Sharma testified that the liquor store is in a shopping center, not in a neighborhood. He has previously worked at Monumental Liquors and Dew Liquors in the city. They will keep everything about the business the same as the previous owners. Ms. Pyu Jung Lee is the Baltimore City resident required on the application. She will not have anythign to do with the business. She owns property in the city but doesn’t live in Baltimore.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Brooklyn
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 919-21 E. Patapsco Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Eduardo Torres & Dionicia Ramos
Business Name F & J Corporation
Trading As trade name pending
Address 255 N. Payson
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes No one appeared for this transfer hearing.
Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Penrose/Fayette St Outreach
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 37% households have children under age 18; median household income: $27,751.89
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No. There are eight corporate entities with “F & J” in their name, and none of them is in good standing with the state.
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Not held.
Vote tally N/A
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed The corporation does not seem to exist, according to the online records of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. If that is true, the case should not have been scheduled for a hearing, because the application was not complete.
Applicants Georgette Stavrakas & Haralabos Stavrakas
Business Name Best Thai, Inc.
Trading As Darbar Restaurant
Address 1909‐13 Aliceanna Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to expand 1909 Aliceanna Street, request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the two applicants, who were present with one additional family member. He told the Board that there is no opposition to the expansion, and that the Stavrakases have been in business there since 1997. They plan to add 400 square feet of space and outdoor tables to the establishment. The applicants have spoken with Fells Prospect Community Association and Fells Point Community Organization.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1911-13 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Blake Smith, David Smith & Douglas Schmidt
Business Name Bagby’s Bistro, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1006‐10 Fleet Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for outdoor table service, live entertainment and off‐premises catering
Hearing notes

Ms. Anastasia Nardangeli, attorney for the applicants, told the Board that the application is to substitute one new licensee of the three individuals on the license. The corporate entity will remain the same, but the ownership of the entity has changed.

Zoning B-2-4
Neighborhood Inner Harbor
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1010 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Ms. Anastasia Nardangeli
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Alexander Smith
Business Name Promenade Venture, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 200 International Drive
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Article 2B Section 6‐201(d)(vii) $500,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people; requests for outdoor table service & off‐premises catering
Hearing notes

Ms. Anastasia Nardangeli and Mr. Steven Thomas represented the applicant, Alexander Smith. The applicants plan to lease space at the Four Seasons Hotel formerly occupied by Pabu and LaMill restaurants. The new concepts will be a Japanese restaurant and an oyster bar. Formerly, with Pabu and LaMill, the restaurants were under the Four Seasons’s hotel liquor license, but the Four Seasons decided that it didn’t want restaurants operated by other parties to be run under the hotel’s liquor license. The two restaurants will be adjacent to each other and operated by the same LLC.

There was a lengthy discussion of the proposed capital investment breakdown for this project. Mr. Smith is contributing $600,000 to the new restaurants, and the landlord is contributing $275,000. In total, Mr. Smith testified that the project will end up costing around $1.5 million. Chairman Ward quipped, “you’re going to have to sell a lot of oysters.” The applicant has not even begun construction on the project yet, but Commissioner Moore said that the Board will require proof of actual payment of funds for the project before they can receive their license.

The attorneys for the applicant submitted a letter of support from the Harbor East Management Group in support of the application and proffered that the daily food receipts for both restaurants will be over the 51% minimum. They submitted floor plans, showing a minimum 125 seats. Mr. Smith has worked on other Baltimore-area restaurants including Ouzo Bay and Harbor East Deli.

Commissioner Moore pointed out that the letters of support were not from the residents of the community; rather, they were from commercial developers nearby and the landlord for the property. Mr. Smith replied that Harbor East doesn’t have a community association. Commissioner Moore doubted Mr. Smith’s assertion, since Harbor East is very densely inhabited. Mr. Smith said that Harbor East has 175 condominium units, but the majority of people staying in Harbor East are in its over 1,500 hotel rooms. The owner of the Four Seasons Hotel, then, submitted a letter of support for the restaurants, because they will support the hotel. The restaurants are not in the bottom of a residential building. Commissioner Moore replied, “so they’re speaking in their self-interest.”

Zoning B-2-4
Neighborhood Inner Harbor
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 675 S. President St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Ms. Anastasia Nardangeli and Mr. Steven Thomas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

II. Review of incomplete transfers/amendments.

Applicant Anthony Ogbuokiri
Business Name UJU Investments, Inc.
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1213 Edmondson Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

The licensee was not present for the hearing, which was rescheduled from its original date of August 21, 2014. There were two community leaders present in opposition to the project.

Chairman Ward stated that the Board approved the transfer on November 7, 2013. The transfer was not completed within 180 days, as required by Article 2B section 10-503, so a hearing was scheduled on August 21, 2014. The hearing was postponed at the licensee’s request, due to an unnamed “family emergency.” Ward said that the license has expired under the statute.

Two community leaders then testified in opposition to the project. Ms. Arlene Fisher, President of the Lafayette Square community association and Chairperson of the Harlem Park housing committee stated her strong opposition to the establishment. According to Ms. Fisher, it is located on a block with only one structure, which used to be a residential building. Most of the houses in the area are vacant. Harlem Park is a historical community, part of Baltimore’s urban renewal history. As part of urban renewal, there are not supposed to be any more liquor stores in the area. There are already three nearby. She noted that the community has been helping to encourage Red Line development and other developers to invest in the area, and “this would defnitely be a negative.” Chairman Ward asked Ms. Fisher whether she wants the license dead, and she replied, “dead is good.” Nothing has happened with the project, she said. It is still a vacant building, and there is no parking unless you park in front of the residents’ houses. Dr. Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew A Hensen Neighborhood Association and also representing the Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations (ARCO), told the Board that the licensee is in violation of the 180-day rule. The licensee has done nothing with the property since November 2013, and the community is opposed to new liquor establishments. He said, “we ask and plead that you shut this thing down.”

Zoning B-1-2
Neighborhood Harlem Park
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 0% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,974
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, but it is a Delaware corporation.
Location of entity’s principal office 108 W 13th St, Wilmington, DE
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing License is “extinguished.”
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The license in this case was well-expired before it even transferred to Harlem Park. For a history of the license, please click here for the Booze News post for November 7, 2013.

III. Hardship Extensions

Applicants Richard Kraus & Themis Smyrnioudis
Business Name Mara Maru, LLC
Trading As Horse with No Name
Address 2324‐32 Boston Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10‐504(d)
Hearing notes

Attorney John A Pica represented the applicants. He submitted a set of exhibits, including the hardship extension request, a lease agreement with a new tenant, correspondence with relevant community groups, and a project summary of the applicants’ efforts to improve the property. Pica informed the Board that the last day of business under this license was March 24, 2014. 180 days from March 24 is September 20, 2014. Mr. Krauss filed for a hardship extension under Article 2B section 10-504(d) on September 8, 2014, which was within the statutory period.

Mr. Pica explained that his clients have signed a lease with a new restaurant, called La Tulteca, which would be the tenth restaurant owned by the same company. Mr. David Carrillo testified that the new restaurant will be a family-style, sit-down Mexican restaurant. They would like to be able to serve beverages like margaritas or beer to accompany the food on the menu.

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that the file contained an objection to the hardship extension request from a community organization. The letter stated that there have been five establishments at the location within a short period of time and that the owner needs to work with the community more. Chairman Ward replied that the concerns in the letter are not relevant at this time, for a hardship extension request; he said that the community group could raise those issues at a transfer hearing to the La Tulteca owners, which should be scheduled shortly.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Canton
Area demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2324 Boston St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. John Pica
# in support 4
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Commissioner Moore warned the licensee that the Board would probably not “do a second extension.” Article 2B section 10-504(d) only provides for one hardship extension.

1:00 pm cases

IV. Transfers Continued.

Applicant Joseph Soltas & David Hitchiner
Business Name New Ritz, Inc.
Trading As New Ritz
Address 500-04 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to expand premises to include 500‐504 S. Broadway for business
Hearing notes The case was postponed and was not called.
Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 504 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing N/A
Vote tally N/A
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed N/A

V. Violations:

Licensees Brian Grace & Paul Gunshol
Business Name Fireball Entertainment, Inc.
Trading As The Big Easy Cabaret
Address 2000 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12 – Public Welfare ‐ “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community” — September 21, 2014 — Fight occurred in the club moved outside and participants was found with weapons.

Violation of Rule 3.02 Cooperation ‐ “Licensees shall cooperate with representative of the Board, members of the Police Department, Health Department, Building Engineer’s office, Grand Jury and representatives of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business.” — September 21, 2014 — Manager contradicted statement from bouncer and tried to conceal the fight started in the establishment.

Hearing notes

The case was postponed and was not called.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1600 Shore Rd, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally N/A
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Nedtria Guy
Business Name Everyday’s, LLC
Trading As Everyday’s
Address 1600 Abbotston Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 5.03 – Class BD7 – “The holder of Class BD7 Beer, Wine and Liquor license must operate an on-premise consumption establishment with on‐premises consumption.” — September 19, 2014 — Liquor Board staff found operator conducting package good sales but tavern portion of establishment was not in operation.
Hearing notes

The first time the case was called, the community representative had not made it to the hearing room yet. City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke asked that other cases be called first to give the community member a chance to arrive.

When the case was re-called, Liquor Board Inspector Mark Fosler testified that he and Inspector Michael Hyde went to the establishment on Friday, September 19, 2014, in response to concerns raised by Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation (CHMCC) executive director Mark Washington and Councilwoman Clarke. The inspectors observed that the packaged goods portion of the BD-7 tavern was operating. They entered the establishment noticed that the lights were out in tavern portion of the building. The required three-compartment sink was not in use. Seven minutes later, Mr. Calvin Mims, the manager, arrived. The inspectors explained to Mr. Mims that the law requires that they keep the tavern section of the establishment open whenever the packaged goods section is open. Mr. Mims replied that they would open the tavern section if the customers wanted to use it; since he lives right across the street, he can come and open it whenever someone wants to be there. Inspector Fosler concluded his report by saying that there is a rat infestation in that block, but that he can’t blame it specifically on the establishment.

Councilwoman Clarke then testified that she is one of the complainants that asked for an inspection. She doesn’t know the current owner, but she does drive by very frequently and sees people hanging around it. She told the Board that she was part of the effort to require that taverns operate as taverns, so that people don’t stand out on the street, drinking. She said that if the store doesn’t operate as a tavern, they should get a Class A package goods license. South of the establishment, in the 1700 block of Abbotston, is a fairly new housing development, with responsible property owners. North of the establishment, in the 1500 block of Abbotston, there are some vacant houses, but there are also responsible renters and homeowners there. The 1600 block, in which this “tavern” is located, is the troublesome block. Chairman Ward asked whether Councilwoman Clarke had ever talked to Mr. Mims; she responded that she had not.

Mr. Lamont Cosby, also a manager of the business, testified next. He asked, “why hasn’t anybody ever came to the establishment to express any concerns with the establishment?” Chairman Ward told Cosby that Councilwoman Clarke “doesn’t have to apologize for not coming to your bar to complain. She’s a city councilmember of the whole district.” Mr. Cosby continued with his testimony, saying that there is one house in the block with twenty “terrible” peopel living there. Councilwoman Clarke replied that she knows which house he means, and she “will address [herself] to that house.” Mr. Cosby also mentioned that their sink isn’t working because they stopped using glasses and now serve only in plastic cups. He said that “the back of that tavern probably looks better than ninety percent of the taverns in the city.”

Mr. Mark Washington testified next, as executive director of CHMCC. He said that the complaint came from the family of a murder victim, who was exiting the bar and stabbed on his way home. He added that the home with twenty people to which Mr. Cosby referred is well known to him and Councilwoman Clarke. Washington told the Board that, in the 1500 block of Abbotston Street, of the 32 houses that could be occupied, only six are. The area is so empty that CHMCC has started to work with the City to demolish the block. Mr. Washington said, “in order to have a neighborhood tavern, there must be a stable neighborhood.” He added that “the bar owner has to understand that, in the broad context, we don’t see a future for that bar in the area.” They are working with the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development to relocate the remaining residents so that the block can be demolished. Washington then mentioned a lawsuit against one particular vacant property owner, Scott Wizig, “that [Commissioner Moore] is aware of.” Washington added that the bar is relatively clean but that there are murders, stabbings, and fights nearby, which are a direct effect from the patrons of the bar. He said that the bar attracts “an element from outside of the community.”

Chairman Ward said to Mr. Washington, “I can appreciate the overview that you’re giving us, but there’s only one issue: has he conducted his tavern in accordance with the law? That’s the only thing before us today. There’s no other issue. So what punishment are you recommending?” Washington did not respond with a suggested punishment, but he noted that the reason that there haven’t been complaints is that there is an 80% vacancy rate, so there is no one to call and complain. Ward noted that community organizations very rarely exist in neighborhoods with such high vacancy rates.

Mr. Cosby then said that the liquor store employees try to do their best to uplift the neighborhood. He admitted, “it’s a bad area” but he said that the store shouldn’t be punished because of the vacancy. Chairman Ward replied, “we’re not punishing you for the neighborhood.” Ward explained that they’re being held responsible for the charge that they did not obey the law and keep the tavern portion of the business open. Mr. Cosby said that someone is always there to open the tavern portion, and “you can get in the back.” Chairman Ward told Mr. Cosby that he can’t just open the bar sometimes. If a person walks in, “he ought to be able to go right into the bar… the door has to be open and available for customers and you have to have somebody back there.”

Councilwoman Clarke then told Mr. Cosby that the reason that his establishment is able to be open seven days a week is because he has a tavern license. She said, “a lot of people fought really hard to make that distinctio, so that if something’s going to be open in the neighborhood on a Sunday, it’s not just a package goods store. That’s why it’s open 7 days a week. If you can’t handle it, and you have to have people standing outside holding their drinks, trade your license in for a 6-day. For 7 days, you have to have that tavern. It’s got to be a place where neighborhood people can come.”

The commissioner asked why the licensee was not present (Mr. Mims and Mr. Cosby are managers, not owners or licensees). They explained that the licensee is in Florida, visiting her daughter. The commissioners did not like this explanation. Councilwoman Clarke said that the managers present were defending the licensee’s license, and she should have asked for a postponement if she knew she was going to be out of town.

Mr. Cosby then asked the Board whether he would be allowed to put an age limit on who he lets inside, for example, “30 and over”? The commissioners replied that he could not do that, and Commissioner Moore said, “you really need to learn the laws.”

Zoning R-6
Neighborhood Coldstream Homestead Montebello
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,821.90
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 1600 Abbotston St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible. 3-day suspension + $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward noted that the Board is dealing with a case of absentee ownership. Ward suggested a one-week suspension and $500 fine. Commissioner Jones noted that the Board in the case below (heard before this case) had issued a 3-day suspension for the same charge. Commissioner Moore, then, stated that she was thinking of a longer than one-week suspension, especially because of the health department violation on the sink, but she agreed with the 3-day suspension, to be consistent within the day’s cases.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed The Board imposed 30-day suspensions in two hearings for similar violations on October 2, 2014.
Licensees Kyung Lee, Chang Bom Park & Jin Yong Yang Park
Business Name Green Bottle Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Oxford Tavern
Address 1741 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 5.03(b) – Class BD7 – “The square footage devoted to the sale of package goods must at all times be subordinate/accessory to the tavern/lounge operation which must be maintained as described in this rule. Only square footage accessible to the public shall be considered in determining compliance with this section. The Board, in consultation with the Zoning Administrator, City of Baltimore, shall have final authority in determining whether a licensee is in compliance with this section. The bar/lounge area must be operative for business at all times the premises is open to the public” ‐ June 5, 2014 — Inspector and patrons were denied entry into tavern portion of establishment, stock and other items on the counter, tavern area not open to the public.
Hearing notes

Liquor Board Inspectors John Howard, Cleveland Brister and Wendell Wright testified that they were part of a Sunday Task Force Sweep of BD-7 tavern licenses. They entered Oxford Tavern and attempted to enter the bar area of the building. The owners refused entry to the inspectors and stated that the bar area was closed. There were several patrons inside the store; when they saw Inspector Howard’s badge, the patrons complained that owner would never allow entry to the tavern portion of the building so that they could watch the game. One of the patrons attempted to enter the bar area while Howard was inside and was denied. The licensee told the patrons that his TV was out of order. Inspector Howard reminded the licensee that the tavern area had to be open and operational when packaged goods were being sold. When the licensee finally allowed him back to the bar area, there were things piled on the counter, which clearly demonstrated to Howard that this area was not normally open to the public.

Inspector Wright came back to the establishment another time with Inspector Howard and was allowed back into the bar area. The bartender was working both behind the bar and in the front package goods section of the store.

Three licensees were present for the hearing. Mr. Chang Park said that normally the door to the bar area is open. Inspector Howard told Mr. Park that the reason that he was put on the BD-7 list is that, in June, Inspector Jeff Ray went to the establishment and was denied entry to the bar. Mr. Songwoo Kang explained that there are new owners of the bar, as of August 12. They are in the process of an ownership transfer. Kang said that they are “always open” but that their TV wasn’t working when the inspectors came in. Kang said that he told the inspectors that they could come into the bar but that they couldn’t watch TV. Commissioner Moore asked Kang why the inspectors would have to ask in order to get into the bar. Kang replied that he cannot have the door open all the time; it is usually locked, but they can “buzz” the patrons into the back if they ask.

Dr. Marvin Cheatham, from the Matthew A Hensen Organization and on behalf of the Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations (ARCO), then testified about his interactions with the licensees. He told the Board that the licensees always pretend as though they don’t understand English when community members try to talk to them about their store. Cheatham said that his organizations have real concerns with this establishment. The bar is not continuously open; it is locked, and people have to ask to be buzzed in. There is continuous loitering in front. Cheatham said that, just the previous week, someone was stabbed to death a few feet away from the establishment. He expressed frustration that the licensees refuse to communicate with the community and that he felt that the licensees were lying to the Board. Cheatham said, “we have some bar owners that think they can do what they want to do, and catch me if you can.” He asked the licensees, “why are you in business if you don’t understand us?” He reiterated that his community groups want to work with the licensees, but they are finding it difficult. There is a loitering issue from Fulton and North Streets all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s not totally a liquor issue, but it’s a liquor and serious drug issue. Ward asked Mr. Cheatham what he wants the Board to do, and Mr. Cheatham said that the Board should “shut them down for two or three days.”

Commissioner Moore said that she feels strongly that the licensees need to do more to work with the community and all of the surrounding community organizations. She was very disturbed by the report of the stabbing nearby. She told the licensees, “you as the owners have the power to do something more than nothing. Businesses should be something that happens for and with the community, not that happens to the community.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Sandtown-Winchester
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 0% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,974.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Ellicott City, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible. 3-day suspension. $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward told the licensees that they have to be “extra careful” and that they “have to start to use your head and learn better English so that you can control your new business so you do not come back [to the Board].” Moore would have preferred a longer suspension but agreed with the Chairman. Ward explained that he did the three-day suspension because that is what Dr. Cheatham recommended.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed The Board imposed 30-day suspensions in two hearings for similar violations on October 2, 2014.

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